Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rock You Like a Hurricane

This weekend I faced a first in my life: my first hurricane. I wasn't sure how to prepare for the storm, so I started asking around. And the signals were...mixed. The newscasters kept telling us to prepare, to buy batteries and food that we could store and prepare without power, and to fill the bathtub with water in case the water was shut off. They kept claiming that the storm would be terrible and we needed to be prepared for the aftermath. On the other hand, most of my friends and coworkers said that all of this storm talk was exaggerated, that we wouldn't actually lose power or have major issues, and that people were freaking out about nothing.

So, unsure what to do, I didn't really do much to prepare. I figured I'd just eat whatever was around my apartment and make do with the candles I already had. That is, until I started watching the hurricane coverage on TV, and I started to see the storms rolling in and the wind picking up. And I started to worry. So I decided to just run over to my Target and pick up a few essentials.

Target on the morning of a hurricane is surprisingly similar to Target on Christmas Eve. The store is similar: all of the essentials have disappeared. But instead of empty shelves where twinkle lights and stockings should be, there were racks devoid of batteries and shelves emptied of bottled water. It seems that the whole city was out of D-batteries, and most places ran out of bottled water. The pre-hurricane shoppers were very much like Christmas Eve shoppers: frantically rushing around throwing things into empty carts, unable to find what we really want, so we're grabbing whatever we can. Instead of carts full of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, and bread, we fill our carts with scented candles, gatorade, and Pop Tarts. We don't make eye contact with each other, either. We look away in shame and pretend we're not scrambling.

So, with a case of bottled water, a box of Cheez-Its, some Pop Tarts, and applesauce, I returned to my apartment. I got out my candles and lighters, watched a movie, and watched the winds picking up outside my window. Then, a little after 6:00pm, the power went out. That left me with a difficult choice: be in the darkness, or light all the scented candles and overwhelm myself with odors. I chose the latter, and I read a novel by the dim, fragrant candlelight. But with the darkness, I was sleepier than usual, and I went to bed before 9pm.

And by the time I woke up in the morning, the storm had passed. So, my experience of the storm was more of an enforced quiet evening. The aftermath of the storm, though, is another story... for another day.